All right, let me first begin by saying this is my first try at a FanPost, so if it's a little bit rough then I apologize. However, I have been listening to what has been going on today and quietly collecting my thoughts and I really just needed to share.
To understand where I am coming from you must first understand my situation. I have grown up living just outside of Knoxville. I was born in 1990, and my first real memory of Tennessee sports is the 1998 football season, so I grew up with high expectations. I live, breath, and eat all Tennessee athletics. My mood and outlook on life is directly connected to the results of the last game. Needless to say, it's been quite a roller coaster ride these past few years.
I'm tired of having a split fan base. I'm tired of being forced to pick sides. I'm tired of hearing negativity.
I came to UT in the fall of 2008 and needless to say as a football guy it's been a frustrating time. My freshman year it broke my heart to see a fan base as good as ours being split over the coaching situation. Philip Fulmer was my childhood hero, a true Tennessean and a true Volunteer. It was almost like watching a loved one be cannibalized by other members of your family and there was nothing you could do about it. Then there was the other guy; we won't go there.
But through it all stood Bruce Pearl. We knew we didn't have to worry about anything with our basketball program. Finally we had someone who brought life into a program that before had been on life support. He was a constant source of energy, enthusiasm, passion, and a steady stream of big wins (I will never forget being in the student section when we beat Kansas). That was all until September 2010.
At first I was not concerned. He admitted his mistake, so all would be forgiven right? Plus, there was a roller coaster football season to tend to. However, slowly but surely I started hearing the rumbles similar to the ones I heard my freshman year. Oh no, not again. I had seen this episode before, and I didn't like how it ended. As the season got longer (and for the most part worse) the anti-Pearl grumblings turned into a loud roar, the divide between the two sides grew larger, and we had to endure a constant stream of negativity from the national media.
And now here we are. Bruce Pearl has been fired. For the second time in my collegiate career I have watched a hero of mine lose his job. Bruce Pearl put his heart and soul into Tennessee, and for that we will forever be grateful, but the fact of the matter is at this point it is time to move on.
As we speak there is a large collection of students and fans marching around campus chanting "We want Pearl." While I do appreciate the enthusiasm, I find it a bit frustrating. No matter how bad we want to change how things went, the fact of the matter is we can't. It's counter productive to try at this point.
I have written all of this to come to this point. It's time for the University of Tennessee to rally together to become a stronger, more unified fan base. I believe we all can agree that it appears our football team is heading in the right direction. Now I don't know who is going to replace Bruce Pearl, but I do know one thing that will help in the transition-let's all open our arms and welcome whoever it is to our family, because in the end that's what we are. Derek Dooley has started the Vol For Life program for his players, but we as fans have been living that for decades. We might not chose our new coach, but whoever it is will have chosen us. That means something to me, and I hope it means something to you.
Tennessee is a great place to call home, and is a great place for athletics. If you don't believe me just look at any of our athletic facilities and it's easy to understand how important our teams are to us. Let's get out of this pattern of negativity, let's stop arguing about who is our coach, let's stop arguing with each other all together. Instead, let's unite under the flag of the University of Tennessee, let's unite under the saying "We are Tennessee," let's unite around our student athletes.
It's great to be a Tennessee Vol, and I'll be damned if I let anything change that. Go Vols!